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Jaguars vs. Steelers final score: Blake Bortles looks good in 23-21 win

Second-year quarterback Blake Bortles is showing why the Jaguars took him with the No. 3 overall pick.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

If you're dismissing the Jacksonville Jaguars or quarterback Blake Bortles for his stellar performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers because it was the first preseason game, you're trying not to see the whole picture.

Yes, let's keep this in proper perspective. This is Week 1 of the preseason. The Jaguars were at home and Blake Bortles played well into the second quarter, facing off against a mixture of starters and rotational guys. Bortles' first series, against the first-team Steelers defense, was an absolute dud.

But his next two drives were exactly what this franchise has been waiting for since, well, since the days of David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew, to be honest.

Bortles' first drive of the game was a three-and-out. Julius Thomas was injured on the second play. Allen Hurns dropped an easy pass over the middle. It was groan-inducing.

But the second drive was a 13-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a field goal. No, it wasn't a touchdown, but it was a long, sustained drive -- something this offense had very little of last year.

And then the third drive, which Bortles likely wouldn't have led had he scored a touchdown previously, was masterful. 12 plays, 83 yards. Bortles' patience, set up by the offensive line, allowed the wide receivers to find space, and the running backs to take advantage of a weaker box on non-passing downs. It was the offense functioning as (get this!) a cohesive unit.

The third drive ended with a 4th-and-goal. Head coach Gus Bradley and offensive coordinator Greg Olson went for it because it's the preseason. And look what happens.

"That’s him," Bradley said at halftime. "That’s part of his game. You can’t change that about him."

"I struggle with trying to change the way I play to prevent injury," Bortles said during a third quarter interview. "I think everyone was happy except the athletic trainers."

Bortles finished his night with an impressive stat line: 11-for-15, 118 yards passing, one rushing touchdown, all that with three clear drops from receivers.

But not everything was good. The offense as a whole, and certainly Bortles, were running on all cylinders. The offensive line, specifically the left side, suffered through penalties and sacks allowed. Luke Joeckel whiffed hard on the second drive of the game against James Harrison.

The defensive line was also very clearly missing Chris Clemons and Sen'Derrick Marks. They were gashed early and struggled to get pressure. Davon House got beat badly on the first drive by Martavis Bryant. And Johnathan Cyprien took a few bad angles once again on some run plays.

But a good quarterback covers over a multitude of sins and tonight was about Bortles, who is hopefully turning a corner. If he is, we can have the sorts of mistakes we saw tonight and still win. If he isn't?

Let's just hope Bortles is turning a corner.